...the government we deserve.
"Divided and decided."
That's how one political observer describes Wisconsin as we sit two weeks and a day away from an historic gubernatorial recall.
Folks have their minds made up about Tom Barrett, Scott Walker and the issues that divide them. Polls show the number of undecideds is decidedly small. All that money the two campaigns and their well-heeled backers are investing in TV and radio ads? Those spots aren't changing minds. They're designed to "angry-up" the blood and get you to get off your couch come election day.
Will people indeed turn out? Sure, lots already made up our minds about the candidates, but plenty of folks have made a decision about the recall process, too and more than a few don't like it. In fact, some of them say they won't vote because they don't want to validate it. Coincidentally, I'm writing this as the in-office radio has callers telling Charlie Sykes just that.
This is the government we get, and we deserve it. We voted these people in. We signed the petitions, not just for governor but for four Senate recalls. It's a process we've allowed to consume our political lives and maybe even split our families, depending on how passions run in your brood.
Wisconsin folks can rightly be blamed for suffering from a serious case of "election fatigue" and it's not going to let up after June 5th, what with a Presidential race looming as Herb Kohl's seat up for grabs.
Fatigue or not, staying home isn't an option. If nothing else, you should vote to preserve your right to complain afterward.
No matter who wins, job one in Madison should be a change in the state's lax recall requirements. Recall should be used only to remove an office holder who's guilty of personal/criminal/political misconduct, not to yank someone who's policies you don't like. George Petak lost his state Senate seat 16 years ago when he voted to include Racine County in the five-county Miller Park tax district. Shouldn't have happened, and there's an argument being made that Petak's ouster sparked the sour political atmosphere in Wisconsin and whetted appetites for more recalls.
Elected officials have these things called "terms". You vote when they're up, unless the person holding said "term" is in handcuffs. That's when the referendum on their work should happen, not arbitrarily because enough like thinkers signed a piece of paper.
Recalls should be a last resort, when someone holding the public trust is doing things so unspeakable they can no longer be part of government. They shouldn't be used because of disagreements over issues, or because a someone has a "D" or an "R" next to his or her name.
Worse, though, would be skipping what's happening June 5th. Either way, we get the government we deserve. With our ballots, we set this state's course. We should live with the consequences, but because of lenient recall rules we're being prematurely asked to vote again. Instead of dealing with the respective jurisdictions, Walker and Barrett are campaigning anew fueled by scads of outside money--cash that no doubt has strings attached. You don't hand someone millions just because you like the way they comb their hair.
As in any election, though, it is a crime to stay home. As much as you may decry what's going on, ambivalence and apathy are unacceptable.
A vote on June 5th isn't a validation of a recall process run amok. It's your chance to decide where the state is going. You may not like the way the process is playing out but it's your obligation to take part.
And, when the ballots are counted (except in Waukesha County where that seems to be an issue) let's hope the partisan acrimony ends (doubtful) and the anger over recalls lingers to the point where Madison gets serious about fixing this dark wrinkle in it's Constitution.